Operations in public sector banks were hit across the country as their employees went on a one-day strike today to press for wage revision and other demands.
Services like cheque clearances, withdrawing and depositing of money in PSU bank branches were affected. However, ATMs functioned providing some succour to customers.
Private sector banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank were functioning normally because their staff was not on strike.
Reports from various regions suggested that branches of public sector banks remained non-operational.
"Over 10,000 bank employees of over 2,000 branches of nationalised banks in the seven northeastern states took part in the countrywide strike." said UFBU spokesman Nikhil Das.
"The strike has been a total success all over the country. All over the country about 4 million cheques worth about Rs. 32,000 crores could not be processed by the clearing houses," C H Venkatachalam, general secretary, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) said from Chennai.
Refuting IBA's contention that banks cannot afford to give higher wage revision and hence offered an increase of Rs.1575 crore, AIBEA said: "Everyone knows that employees are not responsible for bad loans in the banks. Nobody is preventing the banks to take stringent measures to recover the bad loans."
"The total wage bill for the entire 800,000 employees of the public sector banks for the year ended 31-3-2012 was Rs.56,000 crore. But Rs.38,000 crore were provided from profits toward bad loans in addition to actual write off of Rs. 27,000 crore", the AIBEA added.
In Patna, some private sector bank branches were forced by strikers to close. "Even though unions had given notice for the strike one month ago, the Government and IBA did not take necessary steps to resolve the demands. Hence, the strike has been forced on us," Venkatachalam said.
Banks, including the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) had informed customers well in advance about the likely inconvenience due to the strike.
General Secretary of National Organisation of Bank Workers Ashwini Rana said Indian Banks' Association (IBA) held discussions with UFBU on December 14 on wage revision.
After lots of discussions, IBA stated it would be able to offer an increase of 5 per cent over the wage expenses. Since their offer was too low and not acceptable to the unions, it was decided to go ahead with the strike, Rana said.
The wage revision of bank employees was due from November 2012. UFBU is an umbrella organisation of nine bank employees and officers unions.
There are 27 public sector banks in the country with employees strength of about 8 lakh. There are about 50,000 branches of these banks across the country.